What others say about Radar for Mariners...

From helping you decide which type of unit to buy to teaching you how to become an expert operator, this book covers the gamut of small-craft radar use.
— THE ENSIGN (US Power Squardon Newsletter), Mar/Apr 2007

From Heartland Boating Magazine, October 2006:

This book is one of the best technical manuals I've ever read, and I've read a great many. I wonder whether the instructions that come with new radar units could even come close to conveying the information found in this book. I was struck by the simplicity of its explanations, and by the superb illustrations. I thought, Hey, anybody could do this. Even the glossary is one of the finest I've ever come across. This book may be one best $20 investments you can make.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One, although very impressive, covers only the basics. Part Two gets really involved. Part One covers how radar works, the operation and tuning of the unit, and understanding what you see on the screen. It tells how to use radar for navigation or piloting, and it tells you how to keep from hitting things.

Part Two goes over the installation of to day's radar units, as well as special controls or features. In this section you will find out how to do tough navigating in tight places such as moving around that rock you know is out there but cannot see and looking ahead of your present location. Burch also recom- mends employing a professional to install a unit, rather than doing it yourself. When you read the installation section in this book, I think you'll agree.

Even if the weather is bad and you've decided not to venture out, you can practice using radar, whether you own a unit or not. In the back of the book is a compact disc to let you practice your skills using Starpath Radar Trainer Software. It's a sample program, but so what.

Holy smokes, if I would have known a person could do so many things with a radar unit onboard, I would have added one years ago. I mean, Christopher Columbus could have gone down to the Azores, turned right, turned on the radar and told the helmsman, "Call me when you see a blip."
— Donald L. Boone
longtime boater and regular contributor to HeartLand Boating.

"Demystifying radar"
Nothing beats radar for navigating in limited visibility. But what are all those dots and squiggles on the screen? If this sounds familiar, you'll fmd help in David Burch's comprehensive manual. The director of the Starpath School of Navigation, Burch has logged more than 70,000 sea miles, many dependent on radar.

The first three chapters provide an oveIView of how radar works. Don't skip ahead; you'll need this knowledge unless you have extensive experience. The next three chapters cover the basics. You'll learn how to use your Global Positioning System unit and radar for position location and how to derive an "RflX." In the collision avoidance section, you begin with stationary radar and head to moving radar.

The next section, "Beyond the Basics," starts with the installation, specification and performance of radar for recreational vessels. You'll learn advanced navigation techniques and discover which radar and antenna best suit your vessel and your needs. Burch ends with a look at new technology. A glossary and abbreviation and reference lists round out this valuable book. For anyone thinking of installing onboard radar and even for those who already have it, this book is priceless.
—P/C David H. Osmolski, AP
THE ENSIGN (US Power Squardon Newsletter)

From Navigator’s Newsletter, journal of the Foundation for the Promotion of the Art of Navigation (the “Navigation Foundation”), Issue 88, Summer, 2005:

In his newest book, Radar for Mariners, David Burch continues with his long-standing tradition of offering to his readers new and compelling insights into the many facets of marine navigation. That is one of David’s hallmarks: he not only selects topics that are timely and of central importance to the over-all field of marine navigation, but he also has consistently brought to his audience refreshing and very well conceptualized treatment of his subjects. Radar for Mariners is anything but a mere rehash of an old topic. It is an exceptionally authoritative, masterfully complete, and up-to-date statement of the “state of the art” of marine radar. Included also with this 248 page, conveniently sized, book is a CD ROM for Windows XP (explained in brief below).

David’s stated goal is to “teach safe, efficient use of radar for small-craft navigation in any condition of visibility.” He focuses on the environment of vessels less than 80 feet in length, but his new book should be invaluable also to those who seek to learn the use of radar aboard large ships. He approaches his subject not only with the environment of motor vessels in mind, but also the sometimes special environment of sailing vessels which may be well heeled over sailing to windward. Experienced navigators (whether small-craft skipper or sea captain) will often single out radar as the most important electronic navigation instrument. Burch makes and supports this bold statement, and he does so in this day and age of GPS. It is a statement with which this Reviewer and blue water sailor thoroughly agrees. Pay greater heed and far more respect to your radar, all ye slaves to GPS!

The book is divided into two main parts: Part 1 – Working Knowledge of Radar; and Part 2 – Beyond the Basics. There are six chapters in Part 1, and seven chapters in Part 2. The Appendix includes a Glossary, a List of Abbreviations, and References. The CD is inserted into a sleeve inside the back cover. “How Radar Works,” “Operation and Tuning,” “Interpreting the Radar Screen,” “Radar for Position Navigation,” Radar Piloting,” and “Radar for Collision Avoidance” are the topics covered in Part 1. They are covered well indeed, and in understandable, layman’s detail. They are presented in a manner that makes the lengthy and confusing “User’s Manual” for my own RayMarine on-board radar (in my Nordic Tug) cringe in embarrassment. More than one call to RayMarine’s technical support staff might have been avoided by me had I first read David’s new book.

David Burch’s professionally-rendered illustrations are equally understandable. Each of the many illustrations is addressed to a specific point, and the reader is not asked to wade into a complex and confusing, multi-purpose visual presentation. The illustrations include both sketches and photos of actual radar screens. The many intricacies of Gain, Pulse Length, Echo Trails, Precipitation Clutter, Sea Clutter and many other phenomena that are often just by-passed by radar users now emerge with a clarity that is startling. Readers, your intuitive use of your radar will become learned use of it and all of its capabilities, many of which you have no doubt overlooked to date.

Part 2's chapters deal with: “Installation, Specifications, and Performance,” “Special Controls and Features,” “False Echoes and Interference,” “Advanced Navigation and Piloting,” “Radar Maneuvering,” “Radar and the Navigation Rules,” and “Looking Ahead.” David’s readers will learn things about the Navigation Rules in relation to radar that most small craft mariners probably do not know, and his digital age readers will be grateful for the many insights into new radar features that enable coupling with personal on-board computers, near-term future developments in GPS collision avoidance systems, and the current digital age trends that will further enhance radar usage. Again, the illustrations in Part 2 are profuse and they are presented with outstanding clarity.

The CD-ROM for Windows XP (does not work on 64-bit systems) contains several products intended to enhance the study of radar and also to introduce the reader to the Starpath Radar Trainer simulator. Starpath Navigation is a David Burch proprietary publishing and training enterprise, and the Starpath Radar Trainer is an excellent supplement to Radar for Mariners. Purchasers of the book receive a free trial version of the Starpath Trainer with a trial period that begins the day the program is run for the first time, and ends after 30 days or five sessions, which ever comes first. It is worthy of note that the Starpath Radar Trainer PC simulator has been recognized throughout the marine navigation world as probably the most effective means now available for mastering the fundamentals of radar navigation and collision avoidance.

All ye salty slaves to GPS, get this book! Keep it aboard. Make it a centerpiece in your shipboard library. Open your minds to all the things that you never knew about radar. Take Burch along with you on your coastal and ocean voyages. He has been there before you, and it is his vast experience which has given him the insights and the skill to set forth on the printed page the encyclopedic knowledge of radar which is his gift to you.
— Roger H. Jones, Port Orange, Fl., June-05.

This book will turn you into an expert on small-craft radar operations. It covers everything -- radar choice, installation, use, and how to interface with your electronics. Very comprehensive!

...stands out among other books on the subject... an excellent introduction to radar.
— Power Cruising

Until relatively recently, most radar texts were dedicated to professional mariners, people who had access to and were trained in the use of expensive, state-of-the-art, gyro-stabilized machines. Such manuals were largely inaccessible without instruction or were jammed with arcane technical information relating more with the mechanics of the units than with their practical use at sea. Which meant that the use of radar on recreational vessels was a hybrid activity, understood by the few dedicated mariners who took the time to decipher the jargon to distill useful information that could be used on the simpler, inexpensive sets.

Now, however, as the sophistication of recreational radar is catching up to the functionality of professional systems, we’re finally seeing some useful books. Radar for Mariners is such a book. It takes the reader through basic radar technology and its practical applications, to instruction on using radar for collision avoidance and piloting. This is a fine book, well organized and eminently practical for any mariner who wants to fully utilize this important technology.
—Twain Braden, Ocean Navigator Magazine, April 2005

This book focuses on radar for boats to 25 metres. The author is an experienced sailor and writer who also directs a marine training institute. As a result, his book is of the highest quality, well structured and contains a large number of illustrations and diagrams.

The material is very comprehensive and divided into two sections. The first section of six chapters covers basic theory/operation plus the use of radar for piloting, navigation and collision avoidance. The second section covers advanced topics in the same areas plus installation, tuning, false echoes and interference. There is a useful section on the coming Automated Identification System (AIS). The book can be used as a standalone introduction and training resource for radar or it could be used as a tutor in conjunction with the simulator or the actual radar system on a cruiser's boat. It's modest price would make it a valuable pre-purchase aid for anyone wanting radar.

Included is a CD with the full user manuals for four common radar systems, an eBook of COLREGS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea) and a very usable demonstration version of the Starpath Radar Simulator. There are also radar screen shots and some navigation tools.

The Radar Simulator installs quickly. It enables the user to practise the use of radar in a realistic multi-vessel waterway and can be used five times over a thirty day period without cost. There is a radar and chart plotter environment. The simulator does not have rain/noise options nor does it have some of the features found on radars at the premium end of the market but is otherwise extremely effective.

Highly Recommended.
—David Kerr, Cruising Helmsman, Australia

Thank you for writing Radar for Mariners. I learned practical use of radar 25 years ago by watching over the shoulders of more experienced people in the wheelhouse of the fishing boat on which I worked. The knowledge I gained then has enabled me to safely operate boats over the years, and my radar skills have improved with use. However, only when I read your book did I gain a thorough understanding of aspects of radar use such as how and why to selectively "fine tune" radar for improved accuracy in specific close quarters situations. Reading your book has also enabled me to make more rapid and precise determination of target relative and true motion. My radar piloting skills have definitely increased since I read your book and implemented many of your suggestions.

I have been recommending Radar for Mariners to friends who play and/or work on the water. Thank you again.
—Steve Morrell, Professional charterboat skipper and fisherman

What do you want to know about radar? How it works? How to work it? How to pick the right one for your boat? Where to install it? How to use it for position-fixing, close-quarters maneuvering, or avoiding a squall?

The answers to these and hundreds of other radar questions are in the pages of this book. Radar for Mariners is actually two books and then some. Part One gives the reader a working knowledge of radar, which, by itself, might be enough for some people. But David Burch knows how to wring every last bit of useful data from radar and explains it in Part Two — navigating, piloting, and maneuvering by radar, performance, limitations, and even a comprehensive look at radar as it relates to the Navigation Rules.

The "then some" is an interactive CD (Windows XP only) with a trial version of a radar simulator, sample radar manuals, printable plotting aids, and even a complete PDF copy of the navigation Rules. The book is well illustrated with charts, drawings, and photos of actual radar screens (some of which are a bit fuzzy). It's hard to imagine a more complete treatment of the subject for sailors.

David Burch, director of the Starpath School of Navigation, is no stranger to teaching mariners about stars, weather, and navigation. With a Ph.D. in physics, he obviously knows what he's talking about. However, getting complex ideas across in print is not always easy.

David accomplishes this with clear, understandable language that allows his enthusiasm for the subject to come across. His goal is to make you an expert small-craft radar operator. With this book and some practice at the screen, you'll feel that you're finally getting your money's worth out of that mysterious dome.

Radar is an electronic tool, the operation of which takes much more interpretation than any other—too little knowledge can be just as dangerous as none. Radar for Mariners will help you understand how radar works, explain its limitations, and show you how to get the full use of your radar's functions. This book should show up on the radar screen of anyone with radar or contemplating getting one. I can't wait to go to my boat and stop playing with my radar and start using it.
—Chuck Fort, Good Old Boat Newsletter, June 2005